A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Seek Alt. Routes: Bicycle-Powered Experiences at SPACE Gallery

If you're riding your bike down Congress Street this month, stop by SPACE Gallery and make a contribution to their "Seek Alt. Routes" show. The walls have been given over to prompts for bicycle explorations and collections of found objects and images from Portlanders' bike rides.

 The idea is to encourage more people to be more engaged with our city - by riding a bike, we can be more open to the sights and sounds of our community, and better able to understand our neighbors and neighborhoods.

Find out more here: Seek Alt. Routes: Recording Bicycle-Powered Experiences

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bike lanes coming to St. John and Park Avenue

McDonalds plans for surge in bike-thru traffic

This fall, the City of Portland and Maine DOT will repave parts of St. John Street and Park Avenue in the vicinity of Hadlock Field, making both streets narrower (from their current 4-lane configuration, to 1 lane in each direction, with bike lanes and a center turning lane).

At a public hearing this evening, most attendees were supportive and pleased with the city's initiative to make these streets safer.

Except for one sour elderly gentleman, the owner of the St. John Street McDonald's, who complained bitterly at the plan to reduce the number of car lanes in front of his business.

Funny how the fellow was never much worried about congested arteries before tonight.

Credit for this joke goes to Zack Barowitz, who had the presence of mind to mutter it in the cranky gentleman's presence.

10,000 Bikes for NYC

New York City just unveiled its new "Citi Bikes," so named thanks to a $41 million (!) sponsorship from Citibank. Later this summer, the city will roll out hundreds of bike-sharing stations, where visitors, workers, and neighborhood residents will be able to borrow a bike for short-term rentals.

Citi Bike will use the same technology as Montreal's pioneering Bixi and Boston's new Hubway systems, albeit on a much larger scale, and without any public subsidies aside from the reserved use of on-street parking for bike stations. Over 400 stations will be scattered around the lower half of Manhattan Island, plus the neighborhoods around downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City in Queens — and that's just the first phase for this summer's inaugural season.

The big-bucks uber-corporate sponsorships from banking conglomerates like Citibank and MasterCard lend a hard-nosed capitalist stamp of approval to bike sharing's quasi-socialist business model. Here, for instance, is a photo, via Streetsblog, of three transportation policy wonks (from left: NYC Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, Alta Bikeshare CEO Alison Cohen, NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan) and three billionaires (Mayor Michael Bloomberg, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, and Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit).

Lots of other cities have already pioneered the bikesharing idea (even Houston, Texas managed to implement a bikesharing network before New York, with a much smaller 3-station downtown network that opened this spring), but having a self-sustaining bikeshare network of this scale, with millions of dollars of sponsorship investment, really brings new prominence to the bikesharing concept.

In a few more years, bikesharing stations will be as much a part of the generic urban landscape as newsstands and bus shelters are today.